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Electoral Process

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 9 September 2021

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Ceisteanna (484)

Darren O'Rourke


484. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Defence the process of getting postal ballots to serving and retired members of the Defence Forces to ensure they are received and returned in time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41937/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Defence Forces place a very high level of importance on ensuring that all Permanent Defence Force (PDF) personnel are provided with the opportunity to register for, and to receive, a postal vote. To that end, personnel are provided with access to registration forms, through the chain of command. Defence Forces personnel who wish to exercise their right to vote are required to complete a Form RFC annually, to ensure their inclusion on the Postal Voters List. A significant operation then takes place to ensure that those who are registered to vote, at home or overseas, are provided with postal votes, to enable them to exercise their right to vote.

The Department of Defence provides a link between the Franchise Section of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (D/HPCLG) and the military authorities. This is to ensure that appropriate timelines for postal voting are agreed. Responsibility for the distribution of postal votes rests with the military authorities.

On receipt of official notification from the D/HPCLG that an election or referendum has been called, the military authorities inform the GOCs and the Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service of the pending election. Orders are sent to overseas units indicating that a courier will be dispatched with ballot papers.

Officers are appointed to collect ballot papers for the various Formations from various post offices. Close liaison is maintained with the Returning Officers from the D/HPCLG regarding dates and timings of collections. On receipt of ballot papers for their personnel, commanding officers check the papers against the nominal roll of personnel who completed their Form RFC. Ballot papers are distributed without delay to personnel concerned.

The responsibility for returning the vote by post rests with the individual except in the case of personnel overseas, for whom the military authorities arrange for the votes to be returned. This involves the deployment of courier personnel to overseas missions to enable personnel deployed abroad to exercise their vote.

On retiring or discharging from service, a member of the PDF is removed from the Defence Forces Postal Voters List and the appropriate civilian registration authority is informed to enable the individual to be transferred to the Register of Electors. If a postal ballot is identified by the Defence Forces as being in respect of an individual who has retired or discharged since the Register of Electors was published, then that postal ballot is forwarded to their last known home address.

I am assured that the Defence Forces places the highest priority on the thorough, diligent and timely administration of Postal Votes, and will continue to work with both the Local Authorities and the D/HPCLG to ensure that the system operates as efficiently as possible.